Help figure out switched outlet wiring


Old 09-08-13, 02:22 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Santa Cruz
Posts: 56
Help figure out switched outlet wiring


In my office, there is a switch at the door that switches the top socket of an outlet on the far wall, probably intended for a floorlamp. The bottom socket is always on.

I want to wire up two dimmable CF can lights, and replace the switch with a CF-compatible dimmer switch that control those lights only; I want to modify the socket on the far wall so that both top & bottom are always on like a normal socket.

When I pulled the switch and the outlet to inspect the wiring, I could not figure out what was going on. I saw a 14x3 as I expected, but I also saw a separate 12x2 whose involvement I can't quite figure out. My Home Depot 'Wiring 1-2-3' book didn't quite cover this scenario either. Can someone please help me out?

1) To power the cans, I planned to use the RED and WHITE from the 14x3.
2) Replace the (split) outlet with a normal non-split outlet; wire it with black and white from the 14x3, capping off the unused red wire.

Thanks for your help!

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Old 09-08-13, 02:55 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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Location: Twin Cities, MN
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The 12/2 cables are just your hot/neutral in, and hot/neutral out. The out cable feeds something else in the house, same thing at the last receptacle in your diagram.

Your proposed plan is good.
Old 09-08-13, 03:21 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Santa Cruz
Posts: 56
Thanks for your prompt reponse!

I think I understand. So the actual power is coming from the 12/2, and the 14/3 is just used to carry both the switched (red) and unswitched (black) hots to the outlet.

I think what confused me is that both the switch and the outlet are not at end-of-runs, if I follow what you are saying: there is something that the 12/2 powers upstream of the switch; and, there is something that the 12/2 powers downstream of the outlet.

Thanks for helping me wrap my head around this!
Old 09-08-13, 03:50 PM
pcboss's Avatar
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Since you have #14 in the run the breaker or fuse needs to be no more than 15 amps.

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